- google analytics
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- Outlook 2009
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11 July 2011
Why your CEO needs to be seen and heard
Principal | Read all Mark's posts
A version of this post first appeared at PRmoment, the online magazine for the PR sector
CEOs are in a unique position to tell the story of their business. What’s more, stakeholders want to hear from them – and not just when a crisis is in the offing.
However, as research from Weber Shandwick has shown, CEOs from the world’s 50 largest companies are mostly ignoring online communication channels – and missing a clear opportunity to build corporate reputation in the process.
Corporate audiences – investors, journalists, customers, employees – are increasingly looking online for information. But only 36% of CEOs were using the company site or social media – and that includes those who contributed nothing more than a letter for the site. Those using video: 18%; Twitter: just 8%.
So why aren’t we hearing from CEOs online? Our own research shows that, despite an increase in uptake, the FTSE100 remains wary of social media. In this context, perhaps it isn’t surprising that CEOs aren’t rushing to make their voices heard. There’s the perceived time commitment, reluctance to be labelled a ‘celebrity CEO’; perhaps they simply remain unconvinced of the value of communicating online.
In fact, there are all sorts of options for the CEO. Communicating online need not be time consuming, nor is it about chasing social media stardom – it doesn’t have to involve social media at all.
For those CEOs with a high personal profile closely linked to the business, regular communication through a blog or Twitter can work well. But for most, planned communications, weighted towards the channels with which they feel most comfortable, can be highly effective.
Here are some of the options:
- Webchat: Secure and text-based. Questions can be submitted beforehand or during the chat. Advertise on the corporate site or Facebook and archive afterwards. eg: Alison Cooper, Imperial Tobacco (internal webchat; Imperial Tobacco is a client of The Group)
- Video: Share existing videos – eg results presentations – on the corporate site and on YouTube. CEOs who are comfortable on camera can do a lot more eg Joseph Jimenez, Novartis
- Web TV: Streamed video. Live and unscripted, investor communications beyond institutional investors eg Simon Tucker, Software Radio Technology
- Blogs: For those CEOs with lots to say and who are happy to encourage comments eg Tom Glocer, Thomson Reuters
- Twitter: Thought leadership opportunity. A long-term commitment for those with plenty to say eg Jeff Swartz, Timberland
Existing speeches, presentations, interviews should also be promoted on the company site.
Picking the right channels is only half the story. Social media channels should be integrated and cross promoted; site content publicised, not buried deep. And, crucially, all online comment must be monitored, with a plan set in place for how and when to respond.
CEOs are not – and should not be – the only ones telling the company story. But the view from the top is a key driver of corporate reputation and their voices need to be heard. Effective online communication is becoming an essential part of running the business.
Any statements made in these blog posts are the views of the blogger and do not necessarily represent the views of The Group.